At the Consumer Electronic Show, or CES 2020 in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, Hyundai and Uber revealed their partnership for the development of Uber Air, a flying taxi service. Prototypes of the model are expected to launch in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne beginning in 2023. With intentions of assisting customers with longer commutes, the companies are mapping concepts for an autonomous plane to pick up passengers who order flights through Uber Air.
Hyundai’s idea for the flying taxi, or e-VTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) is called the S-A1, a four-passenger taxi. Although there is currently no set production date, the Hyundai’s plan is to eventually make the vehicles autonomous. Ideally, the “Personal Air Vehicle” is fully electric with a 60-mile range with the ability to fly at low altitudes at a maximum of 2,000 feet. Uber will construct skyports between pick-up and drop-off locations where the vehicles can recharge, taking approximately 10 minutes to regain full battery life. Uber projects it will cost about $100 per every 20 miles travelled.
Uber’s project for air taxi travel will be titled“Uber Elevate” as the idea continues to unfold. By partnering with Hyundai, the company hopes to manufacture an air taxi market of the future in hopes that one day flying taxis will fill the skies. Uber Elevate chief Eric Allison remarked, “Combining Hyundai’s manufacturing muscle with Uber’s technology platform represents a giant leap forward for launching a vibrant air taxi network in the coming years.”
Uber has further partnerships with helicopter manufacturer Bell, as well as Embrarer, the Brazilian aerospace manufacturer. Utilizing its connections, Uber is embarking on an aggressive approach to change the dynamic of travel once more. Until then, the company currently offers human-piloted helicopter rides within Manhattan. The plans for Uber Elevate eliminate the idea of having a human pilot, as the developing software is aiming toward autonomous flight. Although Uber is taking a vigorous approach to the establishment of their new branch in the taxi industry, the vehicles will still require certification from the Federal Aviation Administration which could take years on its own. However, with an intuitive plan and hopeful prospects, Uber Elevate could take flight within the next ten years.